10 essential performance tips for MySQL

From workload profiling to the three rules of indexing, these expert insights are sure to make your MySQL servers scream

By Baron Schwartz, InfoWorld |  Software, databases, MySQL

As with all relational databases, MySQL can prove to be a complicated beast, one that can crawl to a halt at a moment's notice, leaving your applications in the lurch and your business on the line.

The truth is, common mistakes underlie most MySQL performance problems. To ensure your MySQL server hums along at top speed, providing stable and consistent performance, it is important to eliminate these mistakes, which are often obscured by some subtlety in your workload or a configuration trap.

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Luckily, many MySQL performance issues turn out to have similar solutions, making troubleshooting and tuning MySQL a manageable task.

Here are 10 tips for getting great performance out of MySQL.

MySQL performance tip No. 1: Profile your workload

The best way to understand how your server spends its time is to profile the server's workload. By profiling your workload, you can expose the most expensive queries for further tuning. Here, time is the most important metric because when you issue a query against the server, you care very little about anything except how quickly it completes.

The best way to profile your workload is with a tool such as MySQL Enterprise Monitor's query analyzer or the pt-query-digest from the Percona Toolkit. These tools capture queries the server executes and return a table of tasks sorted by decreasing order of response time, instantly bubbling up the most expensive and time-consuming tasks to the top so that you can see where to focus your efforts.

Workload-profiling tools group similar queries together into one row, allowing you to see the queries that are slow, as well as the queries that are fast but executed many times.

MySQL performance tip No. 2: Understand the four fundamental resources

To function, a database server needs four fundamental resources: CPU, memory, disk, and network. If any of these is weak, erratic, or overloaded, then the database server is very likely to perform poorly.

Understanding the fundamental resources is important in two particular areas: choosing hardware and troubleshooting problems.

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